Star Wars: The Last Jedi UHD Review

This is not going to go the way you think 5 Stars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the third film in the franchise under Disney ownership, and, like most Star Wars movies these days, caused a decisive split among fans. Regardless, this latest installment was a box office juggernaut, earning over $1.3 billion worldwide, and becomes the first in the franchise to be released on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Released: 15 Dec 2017
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 152 min
Director: Rian Johnson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley
Writer(s): Rian Johnson, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Plot: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.
IMDB rating: 7.4
MetaScore: 85

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 DD+:English 7.1 DD+, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 7.1 DD+:Spanish 7.1 DD+
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 32 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-spindle UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: ABC
Release Date: 03/27/2018
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4.5/5

At the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Rebellion, under Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) leadership and assistance from hot-shot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), managed to destroy yet another planet-destroying device developed by the First Order (who have taken the place of the Empire). Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) have located a reclusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), while Finn (John Boyega) remained in a coma after he and Rey encountered Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), aka Ben Solo and Leia’s son, in a light saber battle.

As Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens, the Rebellion is evacuating their base after it has been discovered by the First Order. They escape to safety, but at an enormous cost after Poe leads an all-out assault on a Dreadnought, a battleship capable of destroying bases on land with pinpoint accuracy. Although the Dreadnought is destroyed, the battle eventually wipes out the Rebellion’s fleet of bombers in the process, causing Leia to demote Poe’s rank. Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is not happy with the First Order’s loss of the Dreadnought, first dismissing Kylo Ren as a disappointment and calling him a child hiding behind a mask, but is elated to hear from General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) that the Rebellion’s lead vessel has a tracker and can be tracked even though hyperspace.

Rey meets Luke Skywalker, who refuses to train her after his failure in training Ben Solo, and knowing that the Jedi have been doomed to failure in restoring peace for any length of time. Finn has awakened from his coma, and after learning that the Rebel fleet is running low on fuel and that the First Order has managed to stay just out of bombing range of the fleet, meets up with mechanic Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), and the two escape to find a master codebreaker at a casino on the planet of Canto Bight so they can break free from Snoke’s ship.

There is a lot going on in this eighth chapter of the space saga started by George Lucas back in 1977, and there was a lot riding on this installment. The Force Awakens was nostalgic and a chance to catch up, somewhat, with old friends and meet some new ones. With The Last Jedi, it was time to really get to know these new characters. At first glance, Rian Johnson may have seemed like an odd choice to direct this next installment. His previous films Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper are very far removed from anything remotely resembling Star Wars, and Lucasfilm was even allowing him to write the screenplay and have his long-time producing partner Ram Bergman on board. But Johnson is likely more of a fan than J.J Abrams, in that he understands the characters and some of the pitfalls of the saga (especially the cyclical Jedi allowing the Dark Side to gain power and control, only to be defeated then given the chance to rise to power once again). Granted, Johnson’s decisions divided some fans (but what Star Wars movie since the original trilogy hasn’t). The real highlight of the film, though, is the motion capture performance of Andy Serkis as Snoke, a major technological breakthrough for ILM (finally catching up to industry-leader WETA, whom ILM farmed out to for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell NoTales), but also Serkis as a performer (there is a featurette on this that shows how his performance shined through the CG character). Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not a perfect film by any means, and does have its flaws (most notably the search for the Master Codebreaker at the casino), but it is a highly enjoyable “middle” film of a trilogy.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

For the most part, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was photographed on 35mm film stock and then completed as a true 4K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range. Disney’s 2160p transfer retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and includes both Dolby Vision (the studio’s first disc to do so) and HDR10 high dynamic range. Unfortunately, those who only have HDR10 capability (such as myself) will still see the disclaimer stating “For optimal viewing quality, please view your Disney Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc on an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and Ultra HD TV that support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dolby Vision technology.” This is the first time I’ve seen such a disclaimer on a disc with Dolby Vision, and I hope that Disney will discontinue showing this disclaimer on setups that can only support HDR10, like all other studios using Dolby Vision (such as Paramount and Lionsgate), as this can cause confusion with the average viewer.

Having said that, the video on this disc, even when viewing on HDR10 capable equipment, is definitely reference-level and demo-worthy. Colors are often bold and vivid where intended. Snope’s throne room, which is bathed in red, never suffers from bleeding or banding, and the red Royal Guards stand out without blending in to the background thanks to the wider color gamut. The green landscapes on Ahch-To are much more lush and really pop when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray (which is a reference-level disc itself). Contrast is greatly improved, with deep blacks, particularly in the star fields which also contain various shades of white stars. Kylo Ren’s all-black costume also benefits, with varying shades of black as well as defined texturing and stitching. Although completed as a digital intermediate, film grain is left intact for the most part, allowing a more organic look to the film (the main exception, however, is the opening crawl, which appeared very video-like compared to the rest of the film).

Audio: 5/5

Star Wars: The Last Jedi contains a reference-quality Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 track (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), in addition to a (lossy) Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 track encoded ay 1.0 Mbps. I listened to the film on a 5.1.2 Atmos setup, and it was a pure delight. While overhead placement of sounds are minimal, where the track really outperforms is in the fluid movement and more exact placement of sounds within the listening environment. John Williams’ next-to-last Star Wars score envelops you, with various instruments placed around the room. TIE fighters and X-Wings zoom around you in 360 degrees, as well as subtle sounds of birds and other creatures during quieter passages on Ahch-To. LFE is stronger and more pronounced, but never overbearing and boomy. Dialogue is well-prioritized and placed around the listener in relation to the character’s presence on or off screen.

This may sound strange coming from me, but while the Atmos track soars on Atmos-enabled equipment, I did find that the DD+ 7.1 track fared slightly better with dialogue prioritization on non-Atmos equipment, whether played back in 7.1, 5.1, or even stereo. So the inclusion of what may seem like a redundant track actually makes sense in this instance (although I stand firm that Warner and Disney’s decisions on including separate non-Atmos 5.1/7.1 tracks on most titles to still be redundant).

Special Features: 4.5/5

All of the Special Features can be found on the two Blu-ray discs that are included in the set (except where noted), as well as on most Movies Anywhere providers. There are no special features whatsoever on the UHD disc.

Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Rian Johnson: This informative and engaging track can be found in the Blu-ray feature film disc. Johnson discusses at great length various aspects of the production, as well as pointing out cameos by crew members and other actors.

The Director and the Jedi (1080p; 95:23): This is a fascinating and detailed feature-length documentary as we follow director Rian Johnson from the announcement of his hiring through to the completion of the film.

Balance of the Force (1080p; 10:17): Much of this is discussed at great length in the audio commentary, but Johnson discusses the Force, how it relates to the Jedi, etc.

Scene Breakdowns (1080p; 33:01): A detailed look at the making of three important sequences from the film, playable as one feature or each scene individually; Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle, Snoke and Mirrors, and Showdown on Crait.

Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) (1080p; 5:49): Johnson introduces this segment, as the throne room scenes between Snoke, Rey, and Kylo Ren are presented with Andy Serkis in his capture rig before the CG Snoke was completed. This is fascinating.

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 23:51): Johnson introduces 14 deleted, extended, or alternate scenes from the film, playable as on long feature or each scene individually and with optional commentary; Alternate Opening, Paige’s Gun Jams, Luke Has a Moment, Poe: Not Much of a Sewer, It’s Kind of Weird That You Recorded That, The Caretaker Sizes Up Rey, Care taker Village Sequence, Extended Fathier Chase, Mega Destroyer – Extended Version, Rose Bites the Hand That Taunts Her, Phasma Squealed Like a Whoop Hog, Rose & Fin Go To Where They Belong, Rey & Chewie in the Falcon, and The Costumes and Creatures of Canto Bight.

Music-Only Track: The movie with only John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score, in 5.1 audio. This extra is only available after redeeming the digital copy code and can be accessed on the Movies Anywhere app, Vudu, FandangoNow, and iTunes.

Rebel Rose (1080p; 2:00): A look at the casting of Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. Available only on the Movies Anywhere app.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (featurette) (1080p; 2:06): This un-named featurette feels more like a trailer for The Director and the Jedi. Available exclusively on Vudu.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere, providing access to the movie in 4K UHD on Vudu, FandangoNow, and iTunes, but only HD on Amazon Video and Google Play Movies, plus the above listed special features (except where noted).

Overall: 5/5

Star Wars makes its 4K debut with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with reference-level video and audio, and several hours of special features aimed directly at the fans. Recommended.

Published by

Todd Erwin

author,editor

14 Comments

  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Thanks for the review. It's nice to have a studio release with the kind of substantive special features we used to get in the DVD era.

    I really, really miss those days. I hang on to some discs just for the supplements.

    Thank you Todd!

  2. the DD+ 7.1 track fared slightly better with dialogue prioritization

    We’ve been talking about this over in the Harris thread. It seems the Atmos track is like 5DB lower than other Atmos releases. Try cranking it up a bit and see if that helps?

  3. If the sound track appears low, it is possible that this is a sign that they've put the original theatrical audio mix on the disc, rather than a home video remix. That was the case for The Force Awakens as well. The theatrical mixes generally have a very wide dynamic range, and home video remixes often remix to remove some of those dynamics since home viewers aren't always equipped to go from whisper quiet to thundering loud and then back again.

  4. That seems to be a telltale indication that it's an original theatrical soundtrack rather than a near field home video remix. If only AndySu was still posting on this forum – his passion was for original soundtracks with all of their dynamics preserved rather than home video remixes that normalized some of the volume swings – he'd appreciate this release.

  5. Hi guys, I just checked out my copy UHD of The Last Jedi and found the dialogue norm value to be set at +2 as shown on a Yamaha 1030. This means it is recorded 2 dB lower than the "normal" +4 for all other Atmos UHD discs I have checked…….with the exception of Thor: Ragnarok which shows a dial norm value of 0….4 dB low. This is like the old days of THD and DD when the dial norm value was used on pretty much all discs. Over the past few years nearly all discs with THD or DD had not used dial norm. I have no idea why it is starting up again on some of the newer discs.

    Unfortunately, my Marantz 7704 does not show this……to me important……information about the audio, so I have to route it to my old Yamaha 1030 to see these values on the info screen…….. With the dial norm applied, it is lower in volume to start by up to 4dB, then if it is recorded lower as well, it will be even less loud than other movies……..

    Cheers,
    phannon

  6. I am extremely disappointed in the audio. I had it at reference level and it is anemic in comparison to say, Tron Legacy which shakes my whole house at -10 below reference. I expected so much more.

  7. Sam Posten

    We've been talking about this over in the Harris thread. It seems the Atmos track is like 5DB lower than other Atmos releases. Try cranking it up a bit and see if that helps?

    Interesting comments on overall level and dialog.

    I played the Atmos track (5.1.4) last night and it is indeed lower in over all level to what I have become accustom to with action films.

    As for dialog, I find that for me many modern soundtracks have poor dialog intelligibility, but TLJ did not have that issue. In fact I was very pleasantly surprised how well presented the dialog was in my room.

    I am not a slave to a dB number on my display, so I simply raised the volume to a point that seemed appropriate. I don’t expect to watch TLJ again in the short term, but I will definetly try the non-Atmos sound track.

  8. Brian L

    I am not a slave to a dB number on my display, so I simply raised the volume to a point that seemed appropriate. I don’t expect to watch TLJ again in the short term, but I will definetly try the non-Atmos sound track.

    Yeah what is this all about?

    Do people not use the volume control and just set it and forget it?

    I change the volume for everything I watch.

  9. There seems to be some confusion over what I stated regarding the audio on this disc. I've watched the film in 4K on both of my home theater setups. One room has 5.1.2 Atmos, the second has 7.1.

    The Atmos track is outstanding, with excellent prioritization of dialogue when played back in an Atmos configuration. However, when I viewed it again in my 7.1 room with the Atmos track selected, dialogue sounded a bit lower in volume. When I switched to the 7.1 DD+ track, the dialogue level improved slightly.

  10. Disappointed that with a week to go for our UK release the 4K is still £27 ($38). Thor Ragnorak is still on sale at £25 ($35) – so no, I don’t think is going to come down in price…. Disney are pricing 4K out of the market. I know I could import from the US, but the accompanying Blu with all the extras is likely to be region locked..

  11. Colin Jacobson

    FWIW, I thought the "standard" 7.1 mix on the BD was low in volume, too.

    Not radically so, but I needed to bump the volume about 10% over its normal level on my system…

    I don’t know why people care so much about this. If the perceived level is lower, it probably means that they haven’t over level compressed the audio and it also enables more dynamic range without distortion, although as others have pointed out, sometimes you want less dynamic range in a mix intended for near-field listening in the home. (Although theaters are getting so small, some aren’t much larger than some home theaters).

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